Although the Bedford Fine Companions name did not exist until 1935
its roots can be traced back to the late 1920’s/early 30’s. Inspired by
Cecil Sharp’s collection of English Folk Dances & Songs a group of
dancers lead by Thomas Northern, head teacher at Clapham Road School,
gathered to engage in folk ,sword & Morris dancing. Collectively
they were known as “The Old Moles”
A Morris ring was being formed nationally and the Morris group joined in 1934 under their chosen name of The Bedford Morris Men. Later, in 1935 the social dance group lead by Fred Hamer chose to call themselves The Bedford Fine Companions.
In 1936 Fred married Olive Newham and together they led the group on Friday evenings in Clapham Road School.
During the war (1939-1945) along with other Folk Dance groups in the county club nights & local events went on whenever possible. At the end of the war the club received an injection of vigour with the return of the fighting men.
In 1947 Fine Companions was affiliated to the English Folk Dance & Song Society ( EFDSS) and were invited to dance and sing at the Royal Albert Hall Folk Festival.
During the 50’s there was quite a strong American influence which introduced the name "Square Dancing". This became very popular and this popularity was increased by the interest shown by both the Queen & Princess Margaret. Indeed Princess Margaret became president of EDFSS, & some senior Fine Companions met her at Cecil Sharp House.
The period between 1960 and 1980 saw both the fortunes & the number of members fluctuate.
An important feature for many years was the Annual Dance for children, with many schools in the county bringing teams to the event.
Fine Companion’s venue changed a number of times - partly because of the numbers and partly according to which school Fred or Olive were teaching. At different times Amptill road, Silver Jubilee and Queens Park Schools were all used.
The club now meet at Hazeldene Lower School where the club continues to flourish and to enjoy English Country Dancing with membership around 70. Friday evening Social Dancing is held during term time and a bi monthly public dance is held at Newnham Middle School. Dancing continues during the summer holiday with 4 or 5 garden dances.
2010 ROGER NICHOLLS GETS HIS JUST DESSERTS AT THE CHRISTMAS DANCE
presented with the EDFSS GOLD BADGE
in attendance were Michael
and Mary Wilson-Jonesrespectively Secretary and Treasure of EFDSS
and Dennis Smith another Gold Badge holder. Apart from dancing called by
different club callers everyone was entertained by West Gallery Choir,
The Bedford Morris men and the Fine Companions Display Dance Team.The
presentation speech was made by Michael Wilson-Jones and as requested by
Roger, Dennis Smith presented the AWARD
CLICK ON LINK FOR VIDEO CLIPS
16th July 2010 75th ANNIVERSARY DANCE
and former members from all around the country joined us on Friday evening 16th July to
celebrate our 75th Anniversary.
Graham Foster called a lively programme of dances including one that he
had written especially for the occasion.
The Orange and Blue provided the music.
A celebratory cake, expertly made and iced by Phillip Cambers, was cut
by Hugh Hamer, son of our Founder, Mr Fred Hamer, together with Rene Welch and
‘Myrtle’ Smith, two of our longest-standing members. Report by Elizabeth